This weekend, vegan brand Ocean Hugger Foods will unveil its newest product, eggplant-based eel “unami” at the National Restaurant Association Show in Chicago. The new product—made to resemble eel using a patent-pending process that infuses eggplant with gluten-free soy sauce, mirin, and algae oil—will be available for sampling by more than 65,000 foodservice professionals at the trade show. “We’re thrilled to be able to share Unami at the foodservice industry’s most exciting event,” James Corwell, Certified Master Chef and Co-Founder of Ocean Hugger Foods, said. “Unami is a great alternative for chefs and foodservice operators who want to provide their guests with dishes highlighting the natural, firm texture of unagi without the negative environmental impacts of wild or farmed eel.” Cromwell created the concept of the company after visiting Japan and seeing the mass slaughter of fish first hand at a Tokyo fish market. Unami’s debut follows the successful launch of Ocean Hugger Foods’ “ahimi”—a tomato-based tuna that is now available in the sushi cases at select Whole Foods Markets, college campuses, and restaurants in North America. “Over half of consumers are trying to eat more plant-based protein for both environmental and health reasons,” Ocean Hugger Foods CEO David Benzaquen said. “Our plant-based products are a delicious alternative not only for vegans and vegetarians but also anyone concerned with the impact their food choices have on the environment.” In addition to unami and ahimi, the company is working to create “sakimi”—a salmon substitute made from carrots.
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